I ought to be used to it by now. Just when I think I’ve got life sussed, the world shifts under my feet, I find out more about myself, and I have to reconstruct my mental map of the universe. Again.
It’s been a particular feature of the last three years, as I prepared to move from the world of industry into the church, and thereafter as I’ve spent time in parish as a curate. I’ve discarded mental maps more often than most people empty their kitchen bin. But the trouble with discarding a map is that I need a new one, and at the moment all the information I have to work with is “I know that I don’t know”.
My new mental map is the equivalent of some medieval fancy, with “Here be dragons” written across the blanks. And yes, I do know that such maps are mostly Victorian in origin, and that no self respecting cartographer would ever use such an image. Therein lies the trouble. I like to think that I am fairly good at spotting what is going on, at dealing with dynamics, at dealing with reality. I am a self respecting cartographer of the world. I’m not terribly happy with a big blank on my map.
But some blanks take time to fill in. If I come into contact with a different group of people, I have to give time to understand and assimilate. That makes sense. However, rethinking several portions of my map at the same time takes energy. I feel lost, disorientated, and as a self respecting cartographer, grumpy. I need to reset my bearings.
As a Christian, I have one advantage. I do not have to be a geologist as well as a cartographer. Because however sands may shift, continents drift and volcanoes erupt, God remains core and bedrock.